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What City People Ate That Islanders Didn't?

Was talking to a friend the other day about things she eats and things she won’t eat. Of course we concentrated in game meat, which goes according to culture. What one culture eats another one won’t, and I found it interesting that at times one does not eat a certain food, but eats something quite similar. Take for example, the Creoles of Belize love to eat land crab which we in San Pedro think is awful and nasty. However, here in San Pedro we eat the stone crabs, which we find a delicacy in soup, stew, or in a salad. Hmmm, that is deeleecious. The smaller blue crabs you can catch right on the beach don’t have much flesh in the claws, but you can just open up the whole body, sprinkle some season-all and you can fry it or steam it. As I said before there is not much to be eaten, but you can suck at every little joint for an hour and get up from the table only when you are tired.

So what are some of the game or exotic foods eaten by the Creoles? Well you know, they boast on the guana (iguana), which again Sanpedranos think it sulks. However here in San Pedro we have eaten the conch in its raw form, which Creoles don’t. Furthermore, we take the eyes of the conch, boil it, chop it up with onions and concentrated lime juice and end up with a delicious ceviche or “boca”. Goes well with ice cold beer!

Other exotic foods eaten by the Creole were peccary or wild hog. The gibnut was not eaten here because it is a member of the rodent family and people just took it as an overgrown or giant rat. And another popular meat all over Belize was the fresh water turtle locally known as Hikiti and the land tortoise. Sanpedranos did not eat the tortoise because of the fact that they were found in mud or behind latrines and they were believed to eat feces, human waste or, you know… sh _ _. Iguana eggs –just the mention of the word and Creoles start licking their lips while most people in San Pedro would go, “Ufff.”

Now these are some of the exotic foods eaten in San Pedro 25 years ago. Loggerhead turtle, loggerhead eggs, raccoon, deer, all birds including pelican were part of our diet 25 years ago. Other strange foods would include the manatee, octopus, squid, and fish eggs. Now to continue with the comparisons, while the Creoles delight in cow foot soup, we in San Pedro did not have beef readily available but we prepared the sea turtle meat into a stew and included the fins. These fins turned jelly-like just like the cow foot which was considered a delicacy. Still is for me except that we can’t get the turtle meat anymore. The jewfish head was never discarded. It was cooked into a stew called “Sudado”, which had the same consistency as cow foot soup, and apart from being nice, it was an aphrodisiac.

So take it or leave it. Never say “Uff”. Never say that is not nice. What you do not eat or enjoy, other people find it a delicacy. While in Dominica in 2002, I ate mountain chicken which I later found out to be frog legs. Believe me, it is delicious… as nice as chicken. So pass me the lobster head (I don’t care for the tail). The wild turkey Sammy gave me the other day was superb. I also love the armadillo, fish roe, shark, sting ray, and goat. I don’t eat corned beef, because my father told me that it is made with horse meat. They say chow mien is made with cat meat. If that is so, then cat meat is delicious. This is the true meaning of exotic foods, not beef burgers nor tamales. An exotic food is foreign and unfamiliar as we had them 25 years ago.

– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist

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